Episode 5: Welcome to our podcast dealing with issues related to immigrants and refugees. In today’s episode, Executive Director Kevin Uyisenga is joined by Amos Izerimana, Program Manager of Louisville Metro’s Office for Globalization and Emily Brandon who is a consultant working with the Office. We’ll discuss how our local government is working to support the efforts of organizations, such as See Forward Ministries.
Louisville’s Office for Globalization
Louisville, Kentucky is a culturally diverse city. It adds to the strength and vitality of our community. The Louisville Metro Government established the Office for Globalization to support and promote this diversity. This is a division of Louisville Forward, part of the Economic and Community Development Agency. Amos discusses how the Office for Globalization works to help strengthen and support organizations working to assist immigrants and refugees who are living and working here. The goal is to help these individuals achieve self-sufficiency and success.
Emily has lived in Europe, Africa and Japan. She grew up in Kentucky, but has always had a connection with our various international communities. She now works with Amos and Kevin. Interestingly, Emily lived in Burundi while in middle school and Amos is from there.
See Forward Ministries Partners with the Office for Globalization
Kevin describes how the Office for Globalization was a terrific resource during the pandemic. The outreach and communication was a valuable resource for See Forward Ministries. Amos is able to help coordinate information and contacts to support metro government agencies and community organizations.
The Office is able to ensure the momentum and focus continues to positively impact the needs of people and groups, on an ongoing basis.
Emily describes how language can be a barrier for many foreign nationals living in our community. Various resources may be available, but if you can’t read, write or speak the language, significant impediments often prevent people from understanding how to take advantage of the available resources and programs. It can be a challenge to navigate the system.
Kevin explains how the theme of helping people to reach their highest potential is made possible through the partnership and support of a larger network, including the Office for Globalization. There’s an infrastructure available to help people to thrive, but they have to be able to understand how to engage with that infrastructure. Kevin and Amos can speak from personal experiences and relate to individuals who want to succeed.
In Episode 4, we discussed the importance of getting immigrants and refugees connected. It’s an important step in minimizing feelings of isolation. Amos Izerimana’s role is to facilitate ways to connect people, programs, resources and communities.
Amos describes his experience of having lived in a refugee camp for about 12 years, before coming to the United States. He understands the language barrier and how it impacts people settling in our communities. In Episode 3, we discussed how the English as a Second Language (ESL) program are foundational to a person’s success. Amos comments that the ESL program was vital to his growth and assimilation.
Support for Business Development
Emily describes some of her consulting activities related to the Office for Globalization. She helps to manage the ARP (American Rescue Plan) projects. She works in concert with the Office and through contacts will local non-profit organizations, such as See Forward Ministries.
Emily is also working with business development community resources. They’ve just launched the REACH program. You can complete the online Business Survey for American/Immigrant business owners. The first cohort has launched and the second is being formed. Emily is trying to identify business owners whose business has been impacted by the COVID pandemic. They are doing a health check to identify issues and to align them with the proper programs to position the businesses for future growth.
There are many programs, agencies and resources available, but again, the challenge is understanding the best way to access them. Small businesses, in particular, may have struggled to take advantage of early COVID relief programs due to record-keeping issues, documentation or other challenges. The REACH program may be able to assist them.
Kevin comments how See Forward Ministries is here to also help to bridge the gap for both individuals and immigrant business owners who are seeking guidance and help navigating the systems and programs. In some cases, they may be unaware of the assistance that’s already available to them.
From an economic development perspective, immigrant business owners tend to be very entrepreneurial. REACH is there to help to plant seeds for future success for the business owners, the people they may employ and the community at large. People who have participated in REACH will be able to explain it to other business owner communities.
Amos explains how we need to foster the growth and success of our immigrant and refugee community entrepreneurs. It’s a way to invest in something that will definitely benefit our local community. This may be economic, civic or social growth of our vibrant and connected city. It’s a win-win situation. The Office for Globalization is playing a role in that process.
Kevin comments about how when he first came to the United States, people took him under their wings and helped him to connect and to thrive. As the Executive Director of See Forward Ministries, he’s focused on giving back to our diverse community. He and his team have developed multiple programs to enable immigrants and refugees to thrive in our Louisville community.
As we wrap up the episode, we’d like to Amos Izerimana and Emily Brandon for taking the time to speak with us. If you’re interested in helping with this effort, as Executive Director Kevin Uyisenga says, “Join Us!”
See Forward Ministries is a non-profit organization founded to be a bridge between those who are settling in our area and members of our community who may have an interest in getting involved, learning about different cultures and making this transition a little easier.
This podcast provides a platform for listeners to learn about this organization and the people who are involved with it. If you’ve ever thought about learning more about different cultures, this is an excellent opportunity. Please SUBSCRIBE to our podcast, so you get notifications each time a new episode is launched. Our plan is to launch a new one every 2 weeks.
Visit www.SeeForwardMinistry.com for more information. We’re also on various social media platforms. Let’s connect!